U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
2018 U.S. Junior Amateur: Get to Know the Field July 13, 2018 | Springfield, N.J. By Brian DePasquale, USGA

After a semifinal performance in 2017, Rayhan Thomas is laser-focused on winning two more matches this year. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

U.S. Junior Amateur Home

Among the 156 golfers in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur field, there are:

Oldest Competitors: Nick Willis (18, born 7-22-99), Jeremy Sisson (18, born 7-23-99), Trey Rath (18, born 7-24-99), T. Andrew DiPetrillo (18, born 8-9-99), Cole Hammer (18, born 8-28-99), Augustin Segundo Oliva Pinto (18, born 9-1-99), Jack Rahon (18, born 9-1-99), Mark Turner (18, born 9-10-99), Bryce Kvick (18, born 9-12-99), Wil Gibson (18, born 9-27-99), Peter Bowie (18, born 10-8-99), Jackson Suber (18, born 10-18-99)

Youngest Competitors: Abhay Gupta (14, born 6-25-04), Jonathan Griz (14, born 12-1-03), Luke Clanton (14, born 11-5-03), Graham Moody (15, 7-11-03), Ben James (15, 5-30-03), Kelly Chinn (15, born 5-13-03), Kyo Morishita (15, 5-12-03)

Average Age of Field: 17.06

U.S. States Represented – There are 36 states represented in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur: California (19), Texas (10), Florida (9), New York (7), Massachusetts (6), North Carolina (6), Virginia (5), Georgia (4), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (4), Washington (4), Alabama (3), Kansas (3), Kentucky (3), Minnesota (3), Arkansas (2), Colorado (2), Connecticut (2), Illinois (2), Indiana (2), Maryland (2), Michigan (2), Nevada (2), New Jersey (2), Oklahoma (2), Tennessee (2), Utah (2), Arizona (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (1), Iowa (1), New Mexico (1), Oregon (1), South Dakota (1) and Wisconsin (1).

International – There are 18 countries represented in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur: United States (126), Canada (5), Japan (4), Australia (3), England (3), Mexico (3), Albania (1), Argentina (1), Brazil (1), the People’s Republic of China (1), Chinese Taipei (1), Hong Kong, China (1), India (1), Republic of Ireland (1), the Republic of Korea (1), Peru (1), the Philippines (1) and Switzerland (1).

USGA Champions (3): Garrett Barber (2018 Amateur Four-Ball), Cole Hammer (2018 Amateur Four-Ball), Shuai Ming Wong (2017 Amateur Four-Ball).

Players in Field with Most Junior Amateur Appearances (2018 included): Shuai Ming Wong (5), Cole Hammer (4), Joe Highsmith (4), Eugene Hong (4), Garrett Barber (3), Parker Coody (3), Kaiwen Liu (3), Trent Phillips (3), Cole Ponich (3), James Song (3), Travis Vick (3).

Played in 2015 U.S. Open (1): Cole Hammer.

Played in 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (5): Garrett Barber, Dillon Brown, Cole Hammer, Trey Rath, Shuai Ming Wong.

Played in 2018 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying (6): Ricky Castillo, Canon Claycomb, Logan McAllister, Joseph Pagdin, Colin Sikkenga, Tyler Wilkes.

PLAYER NOTES:

Garrett Barber, 18, Stuart, Fla., won the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title with partner Cole Hammer when they defeated Chip Brooke and Marc Dull, 4 and 3, in the final at Jupiter Hills Club’s Hills Course in Tequesta, Fla. Barber advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Amateur and has competed in two U.S. Junior Amateurs (2014, 2017). He won this year’s Jones Cup Invitational in a playoff with 2018 U.S. Open qualifier Theo Humphrey and the 2017 Rolex Tournament of Champions. He claimed the 2017 FHSAA Class 1A state championship by six strokes with a 36-hole score of 10-under 134.

Jake Beber-Frankel, 16, of Miami, Fla., advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur.He tied for 16th in the 2017 FHSAA Class 1A state high school championship as a member of the Ransom Everglades High team. He was runner-up in the FSGA Boys Junior (ages 13-15) and Junior Players at TPC Sawgrass in 2017. He finished seventh in the 2018 FSGA Boys Junior (ages 16-18). His father, David, has directed several successful studio films, including “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me,” while their mother owns a Miami advertising agency. Their grandfather, Max, was the executive editor of the New York Times.

Akshay Bhatia, 16, of Wake Forest, N.C., reached the Round of 64 in the U.S. Junior Amateur and advanced to match play with partner Grayson Wotnosky in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in 2017. He won this year’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley by one stroke over Frankie Capan with a 54-hole score of 214 (2-under) and the Polo Golf Junior Classic at Echo Lake in Westfield, N.J., by 10 strokes. Bhatia won the 2017 Boys Junior PGA with a record 22-under par, which included a second-round 61. Bhatiaaced the 17th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 when he was 12 years old.

Tyler Carroll, 18, of Carlsbad, Calif., competed in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club at age 13 in 2014. At the time, he was an eighth-grader at San Elijo Middle School. Carroll, who is an Eagle Scout, shot a 70 in  at Vista Valley Country Club to qualify. He will attend Embry-Riddle University in the fall.

Ricky Castillo, 17, of Yorba Linda, Calif., advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Junior Amateur and Round of 32 in the 2017 U.S. Amateur, losing to 2017 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup competitor Connor Syme. Castillo, who was the youngest player in the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club and competed in 2018 U.S. Open sectional qualifying in Daly City, Calif., won this year’s Los Angeles City Junior and Ping Heather Farr Classic. A rising senior at Valencia High School, Castillo is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American and played on two Wyndham Cup West teams (2016, 2017). His brother Derek, who is a junior on the Cal State Fullerton team, competed in the 2013 U.S Junior Amateur and 2014 U.S. Amateur.

Kelly Chinn, 15, of Great Falls, Va., won the 2018 Virginia Class 6A individual state title as a freshman and led Langley High School to the state championship. His father, Colin, is a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy and serves as Joint Staff surgeon at the Pentagon and is the chief medical advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Luke Clanton, 14, of Miami Lakes, Fla., is the third-youngest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. He started hitting balls at age 3 and started played competitively at age 6. Clanton, who is home-schooled, has captured two AJGA and four FJT tournament victories this year. In 2017, he won the AJGA Junior at Blue Hills and the South Florida Junior Open. He also captured the South Florida PGA Junior and tied a course record with a 7-under 65.

Canon Claycomb, 16, of Bowling Green, Ky., was the second-youngest player in the 2017 U.S. Amateur field and was one of five 15-year-olds to compete in last year’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying. Claycomb splits time between Kentucky and Orlando, Fla. He has played on the Greenwood High School team in Bowling Green since fourth grade and, in 2016, he led the team to a second-place finish in the state championship while tying for second individually. His teammates at Circle Christian School, Eugene Hong and Daniel Core, are also in the Junior Amateur field.

Nathan Cogswell, 18, of Kent, Wash., works on the grounds crew staff at Meridian Valley Country Club, which hosted a U.S. Open local qualifier this year. Cogswell, a four-time all-league selection at Kentwood High School, has placed among the top-11 finishers in four consecutive WIAA Class 4A state championships, including a tie for fifth in 2017. A 2018 Seattle University signee, Cogswell has been taking piano lessons since age 10.

Parker Coody, 18, of Plano, Texas, is the grandson of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody, who played in 18 U.S. Opens. Parker, who reached the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and advanced to match play in 2015, tied for eighth in the Byron Nelson Junior and tied for ninth in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Parker, who won the 2017 state high school championship, and his twin brother, Pierceson, helped Plano West High to the 2016 Texas UIL Class 6A state title.

Daniel Core, 18, of Canada, won first place in a regional essay competition and enjoys reading the literary works of Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley and Fyodor Dostoyesky. Born in the People’s Republic of China, Core will attend Columbia University in the fall. He finished second in the FHSAA Class 1A state championship and helped Circle Christian School claim the state title. His teammates, Eugene Hong and Canon Claycomb, are also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field.

John Driscoll III, 17, of Lake Mary, Fla., has New Jersey roots, as he tied for sixth in the 2016 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions and earned all-state and all-county recognition as a freshman at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey. Driscoll, who lived in Ridgewood for four years, also won the 2014 NJSGA Boys Championship. He now attends Lake Mary Prep, and was named Seminole County golfer of the year and was a FHSAA regional and district champion.

Ty Griggs, 16, of Manteca, Calif., won the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club in the boys’ 12-13 division. He is a distant cousin of Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open and 1914 and 1931 U.S. Amateur champion. A rising junior at East Union High School, he is competing in his USGA championship.

Jonathan Griz, 14, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., is the second-youngest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. He shared medalist honors with a 68, which included six birdies and one double bogey, in qualifying at the Country Club of South Carolina, in Florence, S.C. Griz , the 2016 Hurricane Junior Golf Tour player of the year when he won 12 events, was the 2017 club champion at Colleton River Plantation, the site of the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur.

Abhay Gupta, 14, of Concord, N.C., is the youngest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. His older brother, Aman, competed in two Junior Amateurs and advanced to the quarterfinals last year

Cole Hammer, 18, of Houston, Texas, is playing in his eighth USGA championship. Hammer, who was the third-youngest player to compete in a U.S. Open when he played at Chambers Bay in 2015, won this year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with partner Garrett Barber, who is also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field, at Jupiter Hills Club. He has advanced to match play in the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2015 (Round of 32), 2016 (Round of 16) and 2017 (Round of 16).

Joe Highsmith, 18, of Lakewood, Wash., is competing in his fourth consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur. He has twice advanced to the Round of 32 (2016, 2017) and advanced to the Round of 64 in 2015. Highsmith became the youngest player to win the WSGA State Amateur last year when he posted a 54-hole score of 9-under 205. Highsmith, the 2016 WSGA Junior Boys player of the year, will attend Pepperdine University in the fall of 2018.

Eugene Hong, 18, of Orlando, Fla., advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur in both 2015 and 2016, and reached the Round of 64 last year. He also competed in his first U.S. Amateur last year at The Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Hong helped Circle Christian School win the 2017 FHSAA Class 1A state title, tying for third as an individual. He won the 2016 Class 1A state championship and was the runner-up in 2014. Hong, who was chosen 2017 USA Today Boys Golfer of the Year, will attend the University of Florida this fall.

James Imai, 17, of Brookline, Mass., is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. He states 12 is his lucky number because he was born on Dec. 12 at 5:34 a.m. (adds up to 12). Imai, who attends Brookline High School, was born in the 12th year of the current emperor of Japan’s reign and has used golf balls with the No. 12 labeled on them. Imai claimed last year’s New England Junior Amateur at Manchester (N.H.) Country  Club, shooting  a course-record 65 in the first round.

Jud Langille, 16, of Ossining, N.Y., won the 2017 MGA Boys Championship when he defeated Jimin Jung in 20 holes. He also claimed the Westchester Golf Association Boys title and was chosen WGA player of the year. Langille advanced to his first USGA championship by holing a 50-foot birdie putt to shoot 70 and earn the fourth and final spot in the Elmsford, N.Y., sectional qualifier.

Kaiwen Liu, 18, of the People’s Republic of China, is playing in his fourth USGA championship. He reached match play in the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2015 and 2017 and qualified for the 2016 U.S. Amateur. Liu recently completed his freshman season at the University of California-Berkeley.

Sean Maruyama, 18, of Japan, is the son of three-time PGA Tour winner and five-time U.S. Open competitor Shigeki Maruyama. He reached the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, losing to eventual champion Noah Goodwin. He and partner Clay Seeber were the youngest team in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball field. The duo reached match play when Maruyama holed a 119-yard pitching wedge for an eagle on the second playoff hole at Winged Foot Golf Club. He will attend the University of California at Los Angeles this fall.

Logan McAllister, 18, of Oklahoma City, Okla., advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, losing to eventual runner-up Matthew Wolff in 19 holes. McAllister, who won the OSSAA Class 3A individual state championship in 2016 and 2017 as a member of the Christian Heritage Academy team, will attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall.

Clay Merchent, 17, of Noblesville, Ind., is competing in his first U.S. Junior Amateur after playing in last year’s U.S. Amateur at The Riviera Country Club. Merchant tied for fifth in the 2017 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals, held at Augusta National Golf Club. Merchant won the driving portion of the boys’ 14-15 division with a mark of 304.7 yards. He also claimed the 2017 AJGA Junior at Purgatory title with a score of 14-under 202.

Graham Moody, 15, of Vancouver, Wash., won the 2018 WIAA Class 3A state championship as a freshman at Mountain View High School with rounds of 68-71 for a one-stroke victory. He owes his golf development to the Jacobsen Youth Initiative and Oregon Golf Association, which allowed him to play for $5 per round. Moody plays trombone in his high school’s wind ensemble and jazz bands.

William Mouw, 17, of Chino, Calif., is competing in his first USGA championship. Mouw, who is a member of the school’s basketball team, won the 2017 Western Junior by eight strokes, tying 1999 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Hunter Mahan’s 72-hole scoring record of 266 (14-under). He received the Curtis Cup Award as the top junior player in Southern California and was chosen as a Rolex All-American. Mouw, the winner of the 2015 IMG Junior World Championship (ages 13-14) and a member of the winning 2017 Junior Presidents Cup Team, is the son of a chicken egg farmer.

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William O’Neill
, 18, of Morristown, N.J., who will attend Georgetown University in the fall, is competing in his first USGA championship. O’Neill is a two-time all-state selection in New Jersey and was the Morris County golfer of the year. Last year, he was the Metropolitan Golf Association Junior Championship runner-up, losing to Jake Mayer in the final.

Augustin Segundo Oliva Pinto, 18, of Argentina, matched the lowest round in sectional qualifying with a 64 at St. John’s Golf and Country Club, in St. Augustine, Fla., to earn his first start in a USGA championship. Oliva Pinto fractured his right elbow in a snowboard accident three years ago and the surgery required six screws and one metal plate.

Joseph Pagdin, 16, of England, advanced to the Round of 64 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. Pagdin, who lives in Florida, tied for second in the Azalea Invitational for the second consecutive year, losing to Cole Hammer in a three-way playoff.

Trent Phillips, 18, of Spartanburg, S.C., advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and the Round of 32 in 2015. He is a three-time Class 4A/5A state high school championship medalist (2014, 2015, 2017) and has led Boiling Springs High to four state titles. Phillips, who became the first player since 1991 to win consecutive South Carolina Junior Championships, tied for third in this year’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. He will attend the University of Georgia this fall, where his brother, Trevor, is a rising junior on the team. Trevor competed in the 2013 Junior Amateur (Round of 16) and 2014 U.S. Amateur (Round of 32).

Cole Ponich, 18, of Farmington, Utah, is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur. He advanced to the Round of 32 last year at Flint Hills National Golf Club. Ponich, a three-time Utah Junior Golf Association player of the year, won the 2017 UHSAA Class 6A state championship with a 36-hole score of 133 in leading Davis High to the team title. Last year, he was a Rolex All-American and was second in the Junior North and South Amateur. He plans to play for Brigham Young University in 2019.

Brett Roberts, 16, of Coral Springs, Fla., advanced to his first USGA championship with a 68 to earn one of three spots in the West Palm Beach, Fla., sectional qualifier. His cousin, Taylor, reached the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior .

Colin Sikkenga, 18, of Kalamazoo, Mich., is playing in his first USGA championship after earning medalist honors (68) in the Wyoming, Mich., sectional qualifier on June 18. Sikkenga, who also competed in U.S. Open sectional qualifying in Springfield, Ohio, will attend Oakland University this fall.

Jeremy Sisson, 18, of Skaneateles, N.Y., is the second-oldest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field, as he’ll turn 19 two days after the scheduled championship match. Sisson, who attends the Junior Players Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C., was the runner-up in last year’s New York State Boys Junior.

James Song, 17, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., advanced to the Round of 64 of the U.S. Junior Amateur in both 2016 and 2017 and competed in the 2016 U.S. Amateur. Song, who fired a 62 at Oak Valley Golf Club in 2016 U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a high school teammate of 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur competitor Kaiwen Liu,  and will join him this fall at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ryan Smith, 16, of Carlsbad, Calif., advanced to the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. He also competed in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and tied for fifth in the 2017 Rolex Tournament of Champions.

Jackson Suber, 18, of Tampa, Fla., reached the Round of 64 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. He helped H.B. Plant High School win the 2016 FHSAA Class 3A state championship and was the state individual runner-up as a sophomore and junior. Suber will attend the University of Mississippi this fall.

Sean Taylor, 18, of Westfield, N.J., missed nine months and his senior ice hockey season due to an ACL and MCL tear in his knee. He regrouped for the spring golf season and qualified for his first USGA championship. Taylor will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

Aidan Thomas, 17, of Bernalillo, N.M., grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Indian Reservation, where he used a pad to hit practice balls over railroad tracks into an open field. Thomas, who is also a competitive cross country runner, was named the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association junior player of the year three times and has twice finished as the runner-up twice in the University of New Mexico Open (2017, 2018).

Rayhan Thomas, 18, of India, reached the semifinals of the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur in his first USGA championship, where he fell to eventual champion Noah Goodwin, 5 and 4. Thomas, who started playing golf at age 8 and was born in Dubai, tied for 35th in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur after he tied for 29th the previous year. In 2017, Thomas made the 36-hole cut in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Travis Vick, 18, of Hunters Creek Village, Texas, is a three-sport athlete at Houston’s Second Baptist School. In addition to golf, he was a TAPPS Division II honorable mention all-state linebacker and all-district quarterback and a pitcher/third baseman on the baseball squad. Vick advanced to match play in his previous two U.S. Junior Amateurs (Round of 16 & stroke-play medalist, 2016; Round of 64, 2015). Vick is a family friend family friend Hal Sutton, the 1983 PGA champion who competed in 18 U.S. Opens and won the 1980 U.S. Amateur.

Karl Vilips, 16, of Australia, will compete in his first U.S. Junior Amateur after playing in two U.S. Amateurs (2016, 2017). He won the Wyndham Invitational by six strokes when he equaled the course record with a third-round 62. In 2017, he captured the Southern Amateur title and matched Bob Jones (1917) as the youngest champion in tournament history. 

Tyler Wilkes, 16, of Tampa, Fla., is competing in his first USGA championship. He won the 2018 Florida State Golf Association Boys Junior (age 16-18) by one stroke with a 54-hole score of 206, including a final-round 66. Wilkes, whose swing coaches are his father Scott and PGA Tour Champions player Woody Austin, has posted five top-5 finishes in 2018, including a victory in the Orlando International Amateur for Juniors on Jan. 5.

Nick Willis, 18, of Cowpens, S.C., is the oldest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field and turns 19 on July 22, the day after the championship match. A rising sophomore at Wofford College, Willis earned Southern Conference All-Freshman recognition in 2017-18 when he recorded two top-20 finishes.

Shuai Ming Wong, 18, of Hong Kong, is competing in his ninth USGA championship and fifth U.S. Junior Amateur. He will become the eighth player to compete in five Junior Amateurs, a group that includes four-time U.S. Open champion Jack Nicklaus. Wong, who has reached match play in two of his previous four Junior Amateurs, captured the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title with Frankie Capan at Pinehurst No. 2. Wong, who will attend Southern Methodist University this fall and will be teammates with 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin, and whose nickname is Ben, was born in Hong Kong, but moved to Beijing, in China, at age 6.

Brian DePasquale is the manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at bdepasquale@usga.org.

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